He was a footballer out of USC, recruited by Ford, and always ready for Papa's call. But he worked all over the place, with or without mustache, gruff, grumpy, and someone who was likely far worse off camera: Salute (29, Ford); The Big Trail (30, Walsh); Heroes for Sale (33, William A. Wellman); It Happened One Night (34, Frank Capra); Broadway Bill (34, Capra); Devil Dogs of the Air (35, Lloyd Bacon); Black Fun/ (35, Michael Curtiz); The Man Who Lived Twice (36, Harry Lachman); You Only Live Once (37, Fritz Lang); Dead End (37, William Wyler); Submarine Patrol (38, Ford); Made for Each Other (39, John Cromwell); Dodge City (39, Curtis); Young Mr. Lincoln (39, Ford); Drums Along the Mohawk (39, Ford); The Oklahoma Kid (39, Bacon); a Yankee captain in Gone With the Wind (39, Victor Fleming).
He was a cop in The Grapes of Wrath (40, Ford); a seaman in The Long Voyage Home (40, Ford); The Mortal Storm (40, Frank Borzage); Virginia City (40, Curtiz); Kit Carson (40, George B. Seitz); Santa Fe Trail (40, Curtiz); Tobacco Road (41, Ford); Sergeant York (41, Howard Hawks); Manpower (41, Walsh); The Shepherd of the Hills (41, Henry Hathaway); The Maltese Fal¬con (41, John Huston); Swam/) Water (41, Jean Renoir); Ten Gentlemen from West Point (42, Hathaway); A Guy Named foe (43, Fleming); the lead in Hitler—Dead or Alive (43, Nick Grinde); They Came to Blow Up America (43, Edward Ludwig); Tall in the Saddle (44, Edwin L. Marin); The Fighting Sullivans (44, Bacon), about brothers in the war: Bond did not enlist; Home in Indiana (44, Hathaway); Boats Mulcahey in They Were Expendable (45, Ford); Canyon Passage (46, Jacques Tourneur).
He was Bert, the cop, in It's a Wonderful Life (46, Capra); Morgan Earp in My Darling Clementine (46, Ford); El Gringo in The Fugitive (47, Ford); Unconquered (47, Cecil B. DeMille); O'Rourke in Foii Apache (47, Ford); Tap Roots (48, George Marshall); Joan of Arc (48, Fleming); Perley “Buck” Sweet in 3 Godfathers (48, Ford); Riding High (50, Capra); Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye (50, Gordon Douglas); Elder Wiggs in Wagonmaster (50, Ford); Operation Pacific (51, George Waggner); The Great Missouri Road (50, Douglas); Only the Valiant (51, Douglas); Father Peter Lonergan in The Quiet Man (52, Ford); On Dangerous Ground (52, Nicholas Ray); Blowing Wild (53, Hugo Fregonese); Hondo (54, John Farrow); Johnny Guitar (54, Ray); The Long Gray Line (55, Ford); Mister Roberts (55, Ford and Mervyn LeRoy); The Hallidatj Brand (57, Joseph H. Lewis); as John Dodge, a Ford-like movie director, in The Wings of Eagles (57, Ford); and leading the w'agon train in Rio Bravo (59, Hawks).
Ward Bond was only fifty -seven when he died, yet he had apparently worked in something like two hundred films, to say nothing of the TV series Wagon Train, which he starred in from 1957 until his death, playing Seth Adams, the wagon master, father figure, and general dispenser of Western wisdom. Now, some unkind people will say that he sometimes gave the impression of being stuffed and strapped into the saddle some time before his official death. But that begins to take us into his strange career as boaster, bully, boozer, and member of the unwholesome John Ford gang.
As such, there are many stories about Bond’s stupidity, his uncouthness, and his being the butt of jokes—and sadly these are more entertaining than many of the films he made. Which is not to say that Bond was a hopeless case: in The Searchers (56. John Ford), he notices the way Ethan’s sister-in-law handles his coat; and in Gentleman Jim (42, Raoul Walsh)—as |ohn L. Sullivan—he brings a tear to the eye. All too often, however, the tears are in his own eyes first.